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Local Scots Gather In Phoenix To Watch Independence Vote Results

Local Scots wait for independence vote results at Rosie McCaffrey's pub in Phoenix.
(Photo by Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ)
Local Scots wait for independence vote results at Rosie McCaffrey's pub in Phoenix.

The people of Scotland have chosen to remain a part of the United Kingdom. A narrow vote may have temporarily divided the country, but on Thursday night, a Scottish group in Phoenix used the occasion to come together.

At Rosie McCaffery's, a noisy bar near 7th Street and Camelback Road, William Paul’s thick brogue cuts through the crowd.

“I was born under a king and by God's grace I’ll die under a king,” Paul said.

Paul was one of about 50 people at a party hosted by the Caledonian Society of Arizona watching the returns come in for the Scottish vote on independence. He’s been in the states since 1967 but there’s no question as to where he’s from.

“I'm a Scot, as you might gather." Paul said.

Paul is a Unionist, meaning he supports a United Kingdom that includes Scotland. As the votes came in for his home county in the rural western part of the country, he wasn’t surprised at the result.

“I think they use their mind rather than their emotions," Paul said. "They think things out and vote – and I think that’s why it went no for them.”

David McBee is the group's treasurer. His parents were both orphans and so with little family knowledge to go on he assumed he was of Irish descent. After joining the Caledonia club he learned he is actually Scottish. Like many people at the event, McBee wears a kilt bearing the pattern of his clan.

“It's similar to military colors, gang colors, you know – the highlanders were – family tribes,” McBee said.

While he was hoping for a yes vote, he says the sense of identity he’s gained from the group will always remain.

Club President Mark Clark said many expats like himself were hoping for independence.

“I think it's people that move here they always miss the country that they come from – so they pass on the stories, the romance, the beauty of the land, the culture – they really miss it so much – so that’s why they'd be more inclined to go for the yes vote," Clark said.

Despite the no vote Clark says his countrymen will carry on here and abroad.

“End of the day - ya know – it's still Scotland – nothing's going to change Scotland," Clark said.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.